Ultrasound-Enhanced Multimodal Approaches to Pronunciation Teaching and Learning

Jennifer Abel, Blake Allen, Strang Burton, Misuzu Kazama, Bosung Kim, Masaki Noguchi, Asami Tsuda, Noriko Yamane, Bryan Gick

Abstract


Second language (L2) pronunciation is one of the most challenging skills to master for adult learners. Accented pronunciation is part of the expression of speakers’ identity, but it could potentially give issues in comprehensibility. Explicit pronunciation instruction from language instructors is often unavailable due to limited class time. Imitating native speakers’ utterances can be done independently from classroom learning, but the absence of feedback makes it difficult for learners to improve their skills. This project takes a multidisciplinary, multimodal approach to pronunciation teaching and learning through a series of video resources, available at  http://enunciate.arts.ubc.ca/. These videos combine external images of a speaker’s head with ultrasound images of their tongue to demonstrate the pronunciation of various sounds. In addition to examples of sounds in isolation, a strong focus to this point has been on the pronunciation of Japanese sounds, with pronunciation instruction incorporating explicit awareness of tongue movements and insights from articulatory phonology. Further stages of the project will include real-time interactive ultrasound tongue visualization and comparative prosody visualization, both of which provide biovisual feedback to L2 learners.

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